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If It’s Gaither You Want, It’s Gaither You Got & Other Notes From Game 3

Aug 31, 2009, 1:34 PM EDT

NEWWW_starting_mlb The experiment appears
to be over, and the Eagles have inserted Omar Gaither back into the
starting middle linebacker job this week.  Nobody campaigned louder for
Joe Mays' opportunity than us, but with the season quickly approaching
and roughly zero positive standout moments for the second year player,
it's time to make the switch.

Hugh Douglas' description last
Thursday that Mays has played "timid" was perfect.  It's not that Mays
has been awful; he hasn't really been beaten for any huge plays. 
Actually, the problem is he's in on very few plays at all, a major departure from last
preseason where he racked up one tackle after another.  At the time, he was
playing without hesitation, simply running to where the ball is and
making the stop.  While trying to run the Eagles' true scheme though,
he's been lost even where he was thought to excel, in run support.


For what it's worth, Moise
Fokou wasn't any better.  He's had an excellent preseason, but his
trial with the first team went as expected.  Fokou was nailed for a
pair of penalties, including one that gave the Jags a first down on 3rd
and 19, and he seemed even more likely to be out of position than Mays. 
You still have to like what you see from the seventh round pick, it's
still just too raw for such a huge role.

As for Gaither, we know what the defense will get,
which is a solid contribution from a player who knows the system.  He's
not as aggressive as the coaches prefer, but he's a competent defender and
good in coverage.  I still think Mays has a ton of talent, he just
didn't make the most of his shot, and it's time to move on for the time being.

Defense

- Trent Cole is an absolute beast.  The front four is completely different with him in the game.

- Asante Samuel obviously had a great game, but Ellis Hobbs rebounded after last week's stinker as well.

-
Quintin Demps bouncing off of TE Mercedes Lewis in the open field was
way too reminiscent of last year's NFC Championship.  Dawkins brings
the big fella down.

Offense

- Kevin Kolb
looked terrible, there's no other way to slice it.  10 for 18 for 102
yards and a TD doesn't sound too bad, but it was ugly.  Twice with pressure
in his face, he backpedaled deep behind the line of scrimmage and threw the ball away, once intentionally
grounding for a safety.  On successive plays, he overthrew then
underthrew his receiver, and several times targeted covered receivers,
including the touchdown throw that just barely threaded the needle. 
Maybe we should get more of Vick the QB next week and less Vick the
gimmick.

- Eldra Buckley is always the first man down the field
in kick coverage and is a pretty good tackler for a running back.  Next
week is probably the end of Lorenzo Booker.

- Props to the wide
receivers, particularly Jackson and Avant who combined for 9 catches
and 139 yards.  Maclin added another 4 for 53, indicating he's coming
along nicely.  Through three games, you have to wonder if Kevin Curtis
has much of a role in this offense by the end of the year.

- On McCoy's TD run, Celek sealed the edge nicely, allowing the runner to bounce the play outside for an easy six.

-
Once the Eagles quit all that trick stuff, the whole offense seemed to
get into a rhythm, including the O-line.  There are still question
marks though.  Peters seems to get fooled every time the defenders
stunt, and almost got McNabb killed again on a play the DE attacked inside.  Peters inexplicably followed him into no man's land, leaving McCoy on the edge to block two blitzers. 
Cole continues to look sloppy, especially bad news with the announcement Herremans
will be out for awhile longer than expected.  And while
Justice has improved greatly, he's still not much of a run blocker at all and
makes his share of mistakes.

At least Shawn Andrews finally returned to
practice
, and could play as soon as Thursday.

- Overall, the Eagles are going to
be fine, in large part due to their defense.  Patt and Bunk continue to
hold up the line of scrimmage, which is a big key to their success. 
They have playmakers in Cole, Samuel, and Mikell, and solid contributors
Brown, Gocong, and Gaither.

The offense might start off
inconsistent as the line continues to gel, but suddenly their Week 4
bye looks like a blessing as it will give them more time to prepare
for the brutal stretch of NFC East opponents.  You would like to see them manhandle a team
like the Jags a bit more, but under the circumstances (Vick) and
accounting for a few fluke plays, this wasn't bad for a preseason game.